175 Harmful Chemicals in Food Packaging (+ how to avoid them)

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A new study looked at common chemicals used in the food industry and found 175 harmful chemicals in food packaging that could be leaching into our food.

The study comes from the Food Packaging Forum. It compared several lists of toxic chemicals to the chemicals in food packaging and found 175 matches. Yikes.

You can visit the pdf list of all 175 harmful chemicals in food packaging here.

That’s a long list. Here are a few of the harmful chemicals that popped out at me:

+ BPA (bisphenol A), BPB (bisphenol B), and BPS (bisphenol S)suspected endocrine disruptors

+ Phthalates-hormone disruptors linked to a number of human health issues

+ Toluene—a neurotoxin

+ Antimony trioxidea flame retardant linked to lung tumors

The trouble with finding these harmful chemicals in food packaging is that they don’t necessarily stay in the packaging. Carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and other dangerous substances on the list linked above can leach from the packaging into our food. That’s no good.

We’ve talked about harmful chemicals in food packaging before, but this list sheds new light on the need for food packaging reform.

With studies like these, you need to wonder where the funding came from, and Food Packaging Forum is very transparent about that on its about page. They do receive donations, but they say that these donations do not influence their findings. They also disclose their funding sources.

Avoiding Harmful Chemicals in Food Packaging

The best way to avoid chemicals in food packaging is to avoid processed and packaged food. The more whole your food, the fewer pieces of food packaging it comes into contact with.

When you’re at the store, shopping for loose bulk bin and produce items is the best way to minimize your food’s contact with packaging. Bring your own reusable produce bag, so you can skip the flimsy plastic produce bags that contain some of the harmful chemicals on this study’s list.

Of course, eating a 100 percent whole food diet is unattainable for most people. We work, we have families, and we can’t spend all day in the kitchen preparing each meal lovingly from scratch. All that we can do is our best.

What we really need is chemical reform. One way that you can help is by supporting groups like Safer Chemicals that are actively pushing Congress and corporations to get harmful chemicals out of food packaging and out of our homes.

Click the image to view the documentary film about the toxic chemicals in our lives…

Yekra Player

Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.

Unacceptable Levels

Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law. Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.


Listen to this excellent Green Divas Radio Show podcast featuring with Michael Green, executive Director of the Center for Environmental Health, who talked about his work to help protect us from toxins in our environment, including BPA.

About the author / 

Eat Drink Better

Eat Drink Better is passionate about food and drink! Whether they're talking recipes, food policy, food justice, or anything in between, it all comes back to caring about what’s on our plates and its impact on our bodies, society, and the planet. Eat Drink Better accepts all food philosophies that are aimed at creating healthier people and a healthier planet.

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  1. dawnilise@msn.com'
    Dawn February 27, 2017 at 3:46 pm -  Reply

    Sephora? Their store sells makeup filled with toxins. Why are you advertising them?

  2. megan@thegreendivas.com'
    Green Diva Meg February 27, 2017 at 8:52 pm -  Reply

    Hey Dawn, Sephora is nowhere on this page… must’ve shown up on the google ads for your browser. We do not take any advertising from Sephora knowingly.

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